Designing Relationships

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Living Wisely in Trying Times


These days, there seems to be one tragic event in our world after another not to mention the turmoil within our own country. Over these last years the persistence of violence from Newtown, Charleston , Ferguson and most recently the shootings and violence in Dallas leave strife, heartbreak and lack of a sense of justice and safety.  These events are happening at a more frequent pace globally  from Paris to  Nice, Orlando, Turkey, Baghdad and Munich. We can barely catch our breath when another event occurs. The task at hand is to pick ourselves up, heal from within and learn to live wisely with positive impact, resilience and optimism.  What are the steps that can help this happen?

Move From Collective Trauma to Collective Healing

Are you experiencing  increased fear, anxiety and  grief within your life? You are not alone. One night, I awoke at 2 am, sat up in bed with the acute sense of the “orange zone” we are living in. I had seen a client with a near miss in the terrorist attacks in Turkey, leaving on a flight previous to the outbreak and a another client who was a health care administrator who had a hospital -wide lock down. How do we cope with these events  in a healthy way? How do we navigate the journey from shock, collective trauma, grief and panic to a wise, open heart grounded in wisdom, compassion and empathy? There is a physiological map as well as moral compass  to create connection, warmth and relationship.

Master Our Para-sympathetic Nervous System

Our inner observer can help us gain awareness of our physiological response to stress. When we experience escalated or heightened emotion, cortisol and adrenaline hormones release and our flight/fight/freeze instinctive mechanisms are elicited. Their very purpose is to  protect us from the danger of “the tiger” from our brain’s hard-wiring. Images of a flood, a wave of emotion, a locomotive train are useful.  As we experience the flood  or train, let the response be felt. I know when I am triggered, I need to observe my physiological state,  let it go and let in  a preferred response.

To stop, breathe and sooth the  panicked  response that results in increased heart rate, feelings of flight, lack of safety, fight or freeze toward a calmer state is the task at hand.  As Rick Hansen, PhD, from the Good Science Center in Berkeley describes in the Heal image: Have the experience of a calm, safe place.  Enrich the experience,with sensory images and feeling state,  Absorb it for 20-30 seconds and Link to the past escalated emotion. happy healing (1)

The calmer state naturally releases the serotonin required to acquire an effective, executive functioning from the pre-frontal cortex, where we can response wisely. An integration occurs.   Dr. Dan Siegel, MD, from UCLA  explains how this takes us from this higher functioning from our parasympathetic nervous system to interpersonal relationships:

For the brain, integration means that separated areas with their unique functions, in the skull and throughout the body, become linked to each other through synaptic connections. These integrated linkages enable more intricate functions to emerge—such as insight, empathy, intuition, and morality. A result of integration is kindness, resilience, and health. Terms for these three forms of integration are a coherent mind, empathic relationships, and an integrated brain.

Increased mindful practices can build greater strength in order to respond to our environmental stress with greater compassion. Increasing sleep, exercise and eating natural and organic whole foods will enrich our minds and bodies toward optimal living in these uncertain times. We know that what we focus on expands. Focusing on hope, community, beauty, joy and laughter will increase healing and well-being.

 Increase emotional and social intelligence.

John Gottman, PhD, from the Gottman Institute describes how the Four Horsemen can be stopped with their antidotes Conscious awareness can move us from a  fear-based,  critical, defensive, contemptuous or panicked flight response to an enlightened gentle, responsible, calm and wise response through eliciting oxytocin and opiods that create increased bonding and warmth shares Kristin Neff, PhD.


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Act from a moral compass with greater kindness and gratitude.

Deep connection can be created when kindness and gratitude enter the scene. They are the qualities to quell the fire. When well-being contributes to living well, we can contribute to the greater good with compassion and heart.  Our unique offerings and time can make a difference to our world. Expressions of appreciation and gratitude can create change to make a difference. When we act from an empowered, enlightened heart, we offer resilience, courage, empathy, hope and faith that heals.

Six Qualities Couples Desire Most in Relationship


What are our deepest desires in relationship? I believe these 6 qualities are what we most yearn for: Presence, understanding, appreciation, play, vision and romance. When we  nurture and sprinkle these qualities into day to day living, relationships  thrive.


The Power of Vulnerability, Courage and Resilience: Joy



Joy! Just saw this movie and loved the story based on the life of Joy Mangano, brilliantly portrayed by Jennifer Lawrence nominated for an Oscar for her role. The movie itself had mixed reviews, yet the story and it’s portrayal of female entrepreneurial venture is to be commended. This is what attracted David O Russell (director of American Hustle And Silver Linings Playbook) to put her unlikely life story on the big screen.

“It’s about emotion and about people and humanity and what is ridiculous and ordinary about them – but where that becomes extraordinary and magical,” the director says of his film. “That’s that place where we live.”


5 Tips to Design Relationships That Thrive

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Welcome! If you are:
  • A person needing to pull through a challenging time, to increase energy, resilience, clarity, purpose and zest for life.
  • A couple at any stage of relationship-from creating your relationship vision, pre-marital, or undergoing a difficult challenge or transition such as bringing baby home, facing ambivalence, empty-nesting, or retirement.
  • A business with a need to develop effective communication and a strength-based relational model you’ve come to the right place. Life coaching and relationship counseling are for you!

I believe that a quality life starts with quality relationships.
Great relationships begin with compassionate self leadership.
Investing in your life is the best investment you can make.

Together let’s embark upon creating a fuller, richer whole-hearted life and embrace those challenges with strength, humor and creativity. We can design your unique blueprint attuned to your values, hopes and dreams.


I am passionate about helping individuals, couples and organizations design lives of purpose and joy.

Together, we will design your vision, strengthen your belief and confidence and help you achieve success!
I have over 25 years experience working with individuals and couples, and companies in this quest. It is my privilege to assist you in designing your life and relationship with greater purpose and joy.

My Company, Pursuits Coaching and Wellness Network was founded to support clients and organizations in actualizing their vision for success. See



Sharla  has been a tremendous resource to us a couple. From pre-marital counseling, to the present, she  has helped clarify and implement our vision and life changes. We value the support, insight and expertise this has given to us! Thank you! You changed our lives!


I was searching for direction in my professional life. As my work with Sharla has progressed, I have been continually impressed with how she uses her gifts to connect the right people at the right times and to creatively lead us toward recognizing and implementing our own dreams and talents.



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